Thursday, 25 August 2011

"Quiet please"

Olde world, traditional and rigid are words often used to describe the British and their way of doing things.  One feat I really admire though is the balance they have struck between commercialism and sport.  This year marks the 125th championships of Wimbledon.  The results are done and tournament is over, but every passing year my respect grows for the way British event organisers and sportscasters balance tradition with modernism.

Watch almost any English sports event and you will not see as many sponsors as you are used to seeing at sporting events from other parts of the globe.  (The English Premier League and Formula 1 are pushing the envelope though.)  Wimbledon is the paragon of the English way.  Nevermind electronic billboards, nevermind moving billboards...Wimbledon has no billboards at all.  Players are dressed in all white with one tiny logo of their main sponsor on their shirt.  No adverts on every empty space of lawn like you will find in Rugby matches; no corporate names for any of the courts like The Budweiser Centre Court, or gimmicky match awards like the Samsung Fastest Serve Award.  It's just Tennis being played on a clean piece of grass.  Your focus is nowhere else when you watch Wimbledon.  It is the most pure sporting event you can watch in the world today.

There are only two discreet brands you will see on a Wimbledon tennis court: those of IBM and Rolex.  As a TV viewer you are not bombarded with childish animations and excessive stats as is the case with American football.  When someone like Nadal wins the first set the graphic simply shows a 1 next to his name and a 0 next to his opponent's.  The score in games is irrelevant for a set that has been finished.  Font and colours used to convey information are simple and maintain the same colour scheme as always: white font transposed on top of a green canvas offset by some purple.  Everything from the court to the scoreboard to the players to the graphics blends harmoniously.  Nothing looks out of place, nothing is trying to grab your attention away from the game itself.

Sponsors are usually essential for an event to take place, or at least they make it even more profitable, but Wimbledon includes them in such an effortless, seamless and unobtrusive way.  Class is the word.

Watching the new face of capitalist Indian Cricket where company names like Hero Honda and Citi Bank are blasted everywhere and mentioned every minute by the commentators themselves makes you cringe, and I have to wonder if bombarding your viewers this way is actually beneficial for a brand.  Crass is the word.

I can only hope that sportscasters around the world take a lesson from the British and Wimbledon.

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